And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. —Matthew 14:28, 29
Very early in that morning, Jesus’ disciples were in their little boat on the sea of Galilee. A strong, contrary wind whipped boisterous waves against them. There was almost something personal about this adverse gale.
A Joyous Multitude
It had been a remarkable day. Thousands had come to hear Jesus. The disciples felt honored to be associated with the wonderful Teacher. The crowds hung on his gracious words. His doctrines and manner of teaching were delightful. There was a thrilling challenge in his message that searched the depths of their hearts.
Every hearer had some notion of the kingdom hope and the part Israel was to play in it. Most were natural, even carnal, concepts, appealing to human pride; were they not the people of God? But Jesus’ kingdom was beautiful—the Lord’s hallowed presence enthroned in every heart.
Blessing Now, Blessing Later
The throng was hungry for His teachings. They forgot their hunger for food. But the disciples became aware of practicalities. They noticed the descending sun, and became uneasy. They interrupted Jesus, whispering that he should dismiss his audience.
Then followed an experience that would make their minds tingle on every future recollection. They became instruments in an amazing demonstration of power: one lad’s supper fed the multitude. What a climax to the day! They witnessed a portrayal of that blessed time when all human needs would be divinely satisfied and they would again be the instruments used of the Lord to convey blessings to mankind. They were learning to live with the power of God.
This is essential to the preparation of the future ministers of the kingdom. Each was a vessel of divine grace, a channel of divine love, an instrument through which the Lord would exhibit the glory of his power to give life abundant to whosoever will.
A Need for Quiet
Finally, the crowds dispersed, and Jesus was left alone with his disciples—but not before another wonderful moment occurred. The people were so elated by the experience that groups gathered, rallying the support of all. The disciples realized that the hopeful congregation wanted to proclaim Jesus their king!
Knowing the people’s intent, Jesus motioned to his disciples, climbing higher up the mountain trail to be alone with God. He longed for that future day when men would respond to divine love in a way more enduring than the fervor of that crowd.
Their Stormy Challenge
He told the apostles to proceed to Bethsaida, leaving him alone with his Father in prayer. The disciples in the midst of the sea, and Jesus on high with the Father, depicted the Gospel age night of weary toil for the Church.
It was hard for them. A hazardous storm had risen. They strained at the oars, their struggles seeming to avail nothing. Their Master’s presence seemed remote. For hours they toiled, the journey taking much longer than they had anticipated. They longed for the sight of dawn and the shoreline.
But Jesus knew. From his vantage point on high, he saw their plight. The watches of the night passed. In the fourth watch, they glimpsed a sight which frightened them. It was Jesus, but a Jesus they had yet to know. He was now demonstrating divine abilities.
Winds and waves threatened their ship;
yet there was Jesus,
walking on that troubled water as though it was solid rock.
Consider their fear: Here was a being with superhuman power—power above that of the storm. Even earth’s gravity was impotent beneath his feet.
Our Stormy Challenges
This parallels the mighty power of One whose presence is now recognized by saints on earth. Can we comprehend the vast resources of divine power now available to our returned Lord? He is exercising in this earth’s atmosphere, in the midst of the storms that bring fear into human hearts, the power of the victor over sin, the conqueror of every evil force released on earth.
We do not cry out in fear, but let us shout in worship and praise to our returned King, no longer bound by flesh but glorious in majesty.
“Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously on behalf of truth and meekness and righteousness” (Psalm 45:3, 4).
The disciples feared because they glimpsed a being with powers of another world. This recognition of spirit realm was awesome. Blessed are our eyes that see beyond human sight to celestial glory. In awe we see that One who today stands here amidst the earthly scene.
We Learn from Peter
We were not with him on Galilee. We cannot feel the might of battering waves, the force of gale, the surrounding darkness. But our proxy was there, Peter. How we love his earnest heart!
In Peter we see ourselves. His lessons were enjoyed by saints throughout the age. Yet now, the lessons are for us. When Jesus and the disciples were united in the boat, the storm abated, the wind dropped, the sea became a great calm. Soon they reached the other shore.
The time of troublewill not end, nor the testing of the saints, until the last is gathered to be with the Lord. That is the dispensational message. There is also a personal message for each saint, pertaining to their walk this side of the veil. It has special meaning for us, in this time of the Master’s presence in the very midst of earth’s troubled scenes.
Peter was reassured by the Master’s voice,
“Take courage. It is I!Do notbe afraid!”
What comfort we find in recognizing One who stands before us now endowed with wondrous powers. The earth hears and trembles; Zion hears and is glad. In the midst of so much disturbance, so many demonstrations of the powers of darkness, when all human existence on this earth is threatened, what comfort to our hearts to hear the voice of our Beloved saying,
“Be not afraid. It is I!”
Peter was stirred. He saw that Jesus’ powers could overcome all limitations of flesh. He glimpsed a higher realm. A blessed truth confronted him, and dear, impulsive Peter, wanted to taste that power divine.
The Lord created a scenario, teaching us what Peter sought to learn—how to walk on water.
When Jesus walked upon that sea, he was upheld by an invisible force superior to any power on earth. Here was faith in its fulness, faith-fulness that finds the rock on which to walk throughout life.
Peter asked, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
We should not presume, but meekly ask. The invitation comes from him, “Come. Follow me.”
Peter was not testing God. He was asking for the Master’s power to resist the downward force that gravitates the mind to earth. Peter wanted to experience the power of God.
It was an impulsive request. He had not learned that long-sighted vision which the Spirit would later endow. That Spirit recognizes that a heavenly purpose is working on a grand scale. It is our privilege to co-work with God toward that goal. And the Lord utilized Peter’s impulse to teach us lessons.
First we request the Lord’s help to follow him. He does not ask us to do the impossible. God makes ALL things possible.
We are called to walk in Jesus’ steps. How can we do that? He was holy; we are corrupt. Then Peter had to believe that if Jesus gave the word, Jesus had the power. Believe!
Step out of the rocking boat into the stormy sea.
The power is there. This means more than believing when comfortable, in good health. It means to put ALL our confidence and trust on Someone truly worthy—to accept him as our TOTAL means of support.
Jesus walked on water with no visible support. Our visible support refers to job, home, health, family, friends, position, income, material possessions. We cannot depend on them for our peace of mind.
Our Rocky Boats
Believing meant stepping out of the boat. Even a rocky boat is some means of support. Each human strength is like that rocky boat. Stepping out of the boat requires faith.
Are we then at the mercy of the waves? No, we are abandoning the things that can be shaken and placing our feet on solid rock. Matthew 14:30 records the situation: “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord save me! And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
No one can see what supports the child of faith through tribulation and weakness. But the visible effect of faith can be seen—peace, confidence, joy, at times when the world would expect utter dejection and expect us to sink!
The window of the heart opens to heaven when this body of death is locked in its prison.
The attitude of prayerful praise is the visible evidence of the rock of faith. The confining of the body quickens the spirit of perception that enjoys glorious liberty as God’s sons.
Paul, too, stepped out of a boat and walked on water: “Bonds and afflictions wait for me, but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto me.” We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are unseen. No overcomer cowers in the boat. How frightening, when poor Peter found himself sinking!
Our failures teach us deep and permanent lessons.
All saints experience boisterous winds and waves, dark and threatening contradictions to our faith.
Every step of walking on water is a test of faith.
There is no retirement from the life of faith. As the years advance, we become like Enoch: this walk with the Lord becomes so absorbing to our mind that we do not see death, only the victorious Lord at the side of God’s throne, his voice ringing out, “Come!” This is the victory . . . your faith.”
At Golgotha, visible evidence indicated that Jesus had been abandoned. Yet that ultimate contradiction to his faith proved its very reality, faith FULL unto death. Faith is knowing our Father’s abiding faithfulness. We know he is there, he is for us, he knows every detail required to bring us to himself in the bond of perfect trust.
When Peter stepped out, he needed something more sure than the rocking ship made with human hands. He needed the most dependable power that exists. To reach for it, he needed faith that can let go, as surely as it can cling!
Reaching to Jesus
Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6, each add some precious detail. We read in Mark 6:48, that as the wonderful Master walked upon those waves, he seemed to be passing them by, proceeding towards the shore. It was this realization that spurred Peter on to request the Lord’s command to follow him.
Peter did not want the Lord to pass him by. He wanted to walk with Jesus. We do not want the Lord to pass us by. We cannot merely watch him from the uncertain safety of our storm-dashed ship.
We are not arm-chair saints.
Our faith is on trialNOW.
THIS is the hour to realize the power of total trust.
Why wait for that hour of tribulation when our ship may break on the rocks? The truth is staring at us today. Jesus defies that which is seen by natural sight. Contradictions are real. This body of humiliation contradicts the high aspirations of the new mind. It humiliates our pure desire for a holy life. Let our clay vessels manifest the miracle of God’s power.
Everyone, not just the Lord’s people, eventually lose the things on which human security depends—health, strength, partner, friends. All have a coded date-stamp beyond which corruption will set in. How vital to our peace that we learn to walk on water NOW, before that evil day.
Then shall we know the triumph of faith that conquers the fury of every storm. Then shall we say:
Let the chill mists gather round me. Let the lights of earth grow dim. Leave me Jesus, only Jesus. I am Satisfied with him.
The following post is an extract from “Epistles of Peter” by Bro. Frank Shallieu.
2 PETER 1:5: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.”
“Add to your faith virtue.”
The next step in the Apostle Peter’s evaluation is virtue.
The Apostle Paul breaks down the various fruits leading up to love, but Peter is talking from the standpoint of making one’s calling and election sure and hislisting gives a sequential development. The Apostle Peter, the fisherman, is now a mature Christian feeding the lambs as well as the sheep. Having been qualified with a wealth of experience, he knows that death is imminent. Likewise, Paul realized the end of his life was approaching when he said, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day”(2 Timothy 4:8).
We are not reading a textbook but a very valuable, sobering account by one who speaks from experience as well as under the guidance of the holy Spirit.
Comment: Instead of the King James wording “And beside this,” the New International
Version has “For this very reason.” The NIV makes clearer the tie-in with the “exceeding great and precious promises” of the preceding verse. In other words, “Because of the great and precious promises–for this very reason–you need to add to your faith virtue, etc.”
“Giving all diligence” is an important phrase, and it applies to all of the steps.
Give all diligence to add to your faith virtue.
Give all diligence to add to your virtue knowledge.
Give all diligence to add to your knowledge temperance, and so forth.
The great majority of Christians are immature seed.
In the parable, seed that falls in good ground and develops to maturity brings forth “some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23). In other words, full capacity is reached according to the content of the individual vessel. Some have
a 30 percent vessel, some have a 60 percent vessel, and the ten-talented person has a 100
percent vessel—and hence more responsibility. All three categories picture the Little Flock, children of the Kingdom in the real sense of the word.
Virtue means fortitude, strength of character. Question: Doesn’t “virtue” also convey a morality aspect?
Answer: Yes, the breastplate of righteousness is part of virtue. From the simple rudiments of faith
and the milk of the Word, one now starts to get food that is a little stronger, and the body
grows proportionately stronger as well. The child grows, spiritually speaking, with moral
development and strength of character based on an outgrowth of faith.
Following initial faith, virtue is the first development of one who believes into Christ and starts to grow.
Many, thinking that knowledge follows faith, try to bypass virtue and want to teach and
write books when they are still babes. In the enthusiasm of our early days, we tend to be
overconfident. Those who talk that way are not mature Christians, and they betray
themselves by their immaturity of conduct, immaturity of reasoning, and immaturity in an assumed familiarity with Scripture. Thus the flesh tends to jump over virtue and go
straight to knowledge. However, Peter shows our need to go step by step by step.
Faith is the substratum of an entire Christian’s life.The just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17).
Faith in Jesus is the bottom line–faith that he is the Redeemer. We are to add to that faith, in successive order, the seven steps that Peter enumerates.
“Add … to virtue knowledge.” “Knowledge” is a broad term, for there are all kinds of knowledge.
2 PETER 1:6: “And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness.”
Peter continues to enumerate the various steps in the progression to maturity.
At the Last Supper, Jesus remarked to Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).
After Jesus’ resurrection he gently rebuked Peter three times for the three denials. At that time Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my lambs.” The second time the Master said, “Feed my sheep.”And the third time was “Feed my sheep,” after which Peter said, “Thou knowest that I love thee”(John 21:15–17). Notice the progression: (1)“feed my lambs,”and then (2)“feed my sheep” and (3)“feed my sheep.” In other words, Peter was not in the position to feed mature adults at the time of our Lord’s ascension or even after Pentecost. At Pentecost, Peter possessed the first two qualities: faith and virtue. Peter had faith: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Also, he and John spoke very boldly on the Day of Pentecost.
“Virtue”means strength, courage, fortitude.
Now when we study Peter’s epistles, we see a very different Peter from the impulsive one in the Gospels.
Peter tells us to add to or supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. In other words, Peter adds seven different qualities to the basic substratum of faith.
Let us consider “knowledge.”
Remember, Peter is speaking about character development. Regardless of the subsequent lack or fullness of development, we all start our Christian walk as babes with faith in Jesus. In his first epistle, Peter said that “as newborn babes, [we should] desire the sincere milk of the word, … [so that we] may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). As the babe feeds on milk, his bones grow and he gets a little stronger so that, spiritually speaking, he can withstand opposition and persecution. This would be adding virtue to our faith.
To add knowledge, the babe needs milk for growth. “Milk” includes the knowledge of
God’s Word, for how can we instruct others if we have not been instructed ourselves?
To knowledge, we are to add temperance or self-control.
The growth of Peter in the area of self-control is amazing! He underwent a remarkable change from his earlier impulsiveness.
Jesus said to Peter, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not [to death in crucifixion]”(John 21:18). Jesus was referring to the manner in which Peter would die. When Jesus asked, “Who do men say that I am?” impulsive Peter responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13–16).
Peter was a natural leader, but he needed to be instructed himself. The very fact Peter was naked in the boat after Jesus’ resurrection gives us an insight into his character. He did not want any restraints. He impulsively girt himself with his coat and jumped into the water to swim to Jesus, who was frying fish on the shore.
This same man, but a mature and developed Peter at the end of his life, said, “Add to your knowledge self-control and self-restraint.”
This self-restraint must come after knowledge.
Both of Peter’s epistles were written in the last years of his life, just before his death. How valuable is the instruction of Peter in his maturity!
When Paul discusses the various graces of the holy Spirit, he does not necessarily
enumerate them in succession. For instance, in describing love, he does not follow any
particular sequence, but Peter says, “Add to your faith virtue. Add to your virtue knowledge. Add to your knowledge temperance.” Thus Peter gives a sequence and Paul does not. The point is that the instruction of the two apostles does not conflict. Paul gives more detail but lists the graces of the holy Spirit in random fashion. (An exception would be Paul’s discussion of faith, hope, and love, which are in succession.)
Comment: It was Peter who lopped off the ear of Malchus in the Garden of Gethsemane at the arrest of Jesus. This act is another example of his impetuosity and impulsiveness.
Comment: In a practical sense, temperance could be along both material and spiritual lines. We need to have self-control over our life-style and how we expend our resources. Along spiritual lines, temperance would affect how we witness and preach the gospel. For example, as a general rule we would not deliberately make a spectacle of ourselves.
Comment: A comment in the Berean Manual says, “Moderation, self-restraint in all things–we are not to be hasty and hot-tempered, or rash and thoughtless, but evenly balanced, thoughtful and considerate.”We get this moderation through the knowledge of God’s Word.
Reply: Yes, “he that ruleth his spirit [is better] than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
We should be temperate in language, money-getting, money saving, eating, drinking, joy, sorrow, at work, in the store, home, church, and schoolroom–everywhere.
Comment: On the other side of the coin, there is a danger in becoming too temperate and thus not having enough zeal for the truth, the Lord, and His service.
Reply: If we have too much self-control, we will be mute when we should speak. The other extreme is being so out of hand and rambunctious that we destroy whatever good we might do. The proper amount of self-control makes us much more effective.
Add “to temperance patience.”What is this “patience”?
The Greek word is hupomone, which means “endurance.”Hupomone conveys the thought of bearing under a burden, of enduring it and not chafing, of remaining under the burden and not giving up.The same word is used in Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Of course a lot depends on the makeup of the individual, for we are all different. Some brethren under trial may react without a lot of apparent cheerful endurance and yet be faithful. The circumstances must be considered. Those who run a marathon race are not very cheerful when they near the end of the race, for they are pressing on to the utmost. Those who win have an extremely strong
desire to excel and be a champion.
Comment:James 5:11, in referring to Job, uses this same Greek word for “patience.” “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
We are all familiar with Job and the conditions under which he endured.
Comment: “Patience” would be meekly submitting to discipline in every case. Add “to patience godliness.”“Godliness” is the wrong word, for that quality should be the
end, the highest step. Godliness and love are synonymous. The thought here should be
love and reverence for God, God-likeness. Thus the word “piety” is a better translation, for piety is a form of reverence. Piety can also be considered decorum, as in 1 Timothy 3:15, “Behave thyself in the house of God.”
Comment: Strong’s and the Diaglott use the word “piety.”
Reply: The Greek word is eusebeia, and a famous historian was Eusebius, a name meaning piety, a reverent one.
Comment: Reprint 2155 states that God-likeness, piety, is “that devout controlling reverence for God which yields a hearty, cheerful, loving conformity to his will–fervency of spirit in serving the Lord.”
Reply: Piety is especially fervency in spirit in obeying the Lord. He is looking for obedience in us–that is the bottom line.
Works by themselves are meaningless.
“To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams [which is offered in sacrifice and may cost a little money]” (1 Samuel 15:22).
Obedience supersedes works.
2 PETER 1:7: “And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity”
Add to piety“brotherly kindness.” There are occasions where it is difficult to love all
brethren completely and indiscriminately. In other words, there are cases where we cannot manifest love to others because of their disobedience. For instance, 1 Corinthians 5:11 says, “I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”
The individual may not have even consecrated, but if he thinks he is a brother in truth and is a drunkard, a brawler, a fornicator, etc., we are to refrain from fellowship with him. Treating him in this manner is doing him a favor, for if he truly loves God, the truth, and the Lord’s people, he will feel he has done something wrong and will repent.
The Greek word for “brotherly kindness” is philadelphian. Some translations use “love of the brotherhood,” and that is a better term.
We love those who fervently love God. We are drawn to such because they are of the brotherhood. Jesus particularly favored Peter, James, and John because they manifested a greater zeal for God. The incident in which Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus illustrates this favoritism (Mark 5:35–43). Another example is Jesus’ transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–9). That is the type of love we should have for the brotherhood.
We love those who love God, and the more they love Him, the more we love them.
Moreover, we are helped by their example. In the hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers,”
when we sing the words “All one body we,” we are thinking not of individuals but of the
brotherhood, of those who love Christ and are trying to serve God.
Add “to brotherly kindness charity [love].“ If the previous step was love for the brotherhood, what is this highest type of love? It is agape love.
Comment: We love those who love God and have a special affinity for them because of our common bond, but our love must go beyond that point to where we love mankind.
Comment: This would be a principled love versus phileo love with an emotional basis.
Comment: We love the Lord, the brethren, humanity, our enemies, and also the brute
Reply: That is true, for principled agape love is broad. The Law shows how we should treat the animals; for example, they should not be unequally yoked in plowing. Agape love includes love for our enemies and doing good to them that despitefully use us (Matthew 5:44).
With this principled love, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son”
(John 3:16). Those who obey in the future will be saved, for God has made provision for the restitution of mankind. In other words, He will open the opportunity for salvation toothers besides the brotherhood. His love goes from the brotherhood to mankind and even to those who are enemies now but may not be once their eyes are opened in the Kingdom.
Only those who are incorrigible in iniquity will go into Second Death.
Remember that before Peter started the enumeration of the seven graces of the holy Spirit, he said, “And beside this, giving all diligence,” add to your faith, etc. (2 Peter 1:5).
Because we live in the world with its responsibilities and experiences, our time becomes important–the little time we have left after doing that which is right for family, employer, and others. We must give all diligence to add these seven qualities. Isn’t it remarkable that the impulsive Peter is like a statesman or a father in these epistles? True, he was a leader in the beginning of his Christian walk, but now he is more than that. In his first epistle, which was written only a couple of years before the second epistle, he called Marcus“my son”(1 Peter 5:13). Paul used the same terminology with Timothy, and that epistle was written near the end of Paul’s life. As the apostles aged in the truth, they matured.Peter underwent a radical, miraculous, almost unbelievable change from his days as a fisherman. True, he speaks according to the holy Spirit, but his own life is in harmony with that holy Spirit. He experienced these steps himself, and he is passing on the information to us. Later he says, “I am going to remind you of these things until the day I die, and the Lord Jesus has informed me that my death will occur soon.”
Comment: The verses being alluded to are quite touching: “Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shown me” (2 Peter 1:13,14).
2 PETER 1:8:“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Comment: If “these things” (the seven steps above faith in verses 5–7) are in us and abound, we will make our calling and election sure. The fact that Peter uses the term “these things” five times in this chapter (verses 8–10, 12, 15) shows how important they are.
Reply: Yes, Peter is inclined to repeat words and references. For instance, the use of the
word “divine” twice in this chapter is unusual, for that word appears only three times in the whole New Testament. The reason is that Peter recognized his own faults and weaknesses and how the Lord changed his life. He is admitting, as it were, that what God
did for him, He can do for us. Accordingly, Peter mentions the importance of developing character and the various steps of grace that are required if we are to win a crown. We must have diligently tried to add the seven graces to our faith.
Comment: If the words “and abound” had been omitted, the meaning of the verse would have been a little different. All who get life on the spirit plane, including the Great
Company, must have these qualities, but to attain the Little Flock, to get an “abundant entrance,”these qualities must abound in us and must increase more and more.
Reply: For example, when people do acts of kindness, are patient, etc., there is often a lack of consistency. With knowledge, some are satisfied with a certain level and stop there. These qualities must be diligently practicedif we would be more than overcomers.
Question: Is the “knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” in verse 8 the same “knowledge” that is in verse 5?
Answer: The Greek gnosis is used in verses 5 and 6, and epignosis(full knowledge) is used in verses 2, 3, and 8. The words are the same except that epignosis is expressed more powerfully, i.e.with more fullness. By faith we know (gnosis) that Jesus is the Savior, that he died for our sins, and through this knowledge we are forgiven for our sins. In addition, we should also know in more fullness (epignosis) his sermons and parables, his life and character, and how he lived to please the Father.
The “knowledge” (gnosis) of verses 5 and 6 is the second step in the various graces of the holy Spirit, but epignosis embraces all seven steps, which would include a comparison and study of Jesus’ statements and teachings. However, epignosis has nothing to do with the depth of our understanding, which is not always the same. If we have not searched the Scriptures daily, if we have not habitually familiarized ourselves with the Word of God, with the life of Jesus, with the Old Testament, etc., we will be lacking.
Comment: In the footnote for the text “If these things be in you, and abound … ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful,”“barren” means “idle.”
2 PETER 1:9:“But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”
To be “blind” in this sense is to be nearsighted, meaning the individual “cannot see afar off.”
Question: What is the relationship between the first part of verse 9 and the second part? What does lacking the graces of the holy Spirit have to do with forgetting that we were purged from our old sins?
Answer: The object of our being purged from old sins is to grow in character. We are nearsighted if we do not always keep this goal in mind. Peter is saying, “It is not enough to just believe Jesus is the Savior and to be willing to suffer for him. We must have more understanding in order to please God.” Since we are imperfect and by nature fallen–our humanity is depraved–we must frequently occupy our minds with pure thoughts. Paul said, “Think on these things.” “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
If we do not feed on pure thoughts, our minds will naturally gravitate to unspiritual things.
Those who neglect or do not see the necessity of developing the fruits of the holy Spirit, are “blind,” nearsighted. Far-sighted vision would be making our calling and election sure. We are not at the goal yet, so we must keep running.
We cannot let ourselves drift in our thinking or in our actions, but must school ourselves with God’s Word.
Comment: If we stagnate and do not grow in character, we stay in the sins from which we were supposed to be purged.
Reply: We must try to distance ourselves from the old man as far as possible. Of course we cannot do this completely, for he is saddled on our backs, but we must separate as far as possible from our own reasoning and our own will.
2 PETER 1:10:“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”
The objective is to make our calling and election sure.
If we take our eyes off the goal, we will gravitate to our natural tendencies instead of to the supernatural tendencies of the Holy Spirit.
“If ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” The thought is that if we develop these fruits of the holy Spirit and they abound in us, we will never fail but will succeed in attaining the Bride class.
Comment: The Great Company will fall or fail to a certain extent.
2 PETER 1:11:“For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
If we give all diligence to developing the fruits of the holy Spirit, if we have the right heart attitude and diligently practice Christianity throughout our Christian walk, we will get an abundant entrance into the Kingdom, for we will be obeying the promptings of God’s holy Spirit.
We are given “exceeding great and precious promises” so that we might inherit the divine nature.
The “everlasting kingdom” would be the age-lasting Kingdom (Greek aionian). The 144,000 will be on the throne and reign throughout the Kingdom Age.
ALL are born with an inherent tendency to worship a higher power—a Supreme Being. Some have tried to dismiss the idea of GOD, and to get along without religion, but sooner or later come back to the worship of some kind of a higher power. Others, in their anxiety not to overlook any advantage that might accrue to them from allegiance to deity, have had a multiplicity of gods. The Athenians of old even went so far as to erect an idol to the “unknown God” (Acts 17:23).
The true Deity of the Bible has been an “unknown God” to most people in all ages, and is even today.
The Bible tells is that there is one GOD, whose name is Jehovah, Yahweh who is addressed by Christians as their Heavenly Father.
The Bible also tells us of the “Son of GOD,” who is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world. The first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John states that Jesus, in his prehuman existence was known as the “Logos,” that is, the “Word,” or mouthpiece of Jehovah, the Creator. In his relationship to mankind, as Savior and Redeemer, Jesus is prophetically spoken of as the “Prince of Peace”; the “Mighty God”; “Emmanuel”; “Michael”; “King of kings”; “Mediator”; etc. These various titles do not describe different gods, but various characteristics of this one Son of GOD, whom the Father has commanded shall be honored even as he himself is honored (Isaiah 9:6,Matthew 1:23,Daniel 12:1,Revelation 19:16,1 Timothy 2:5).
The Bible also speaks of the “Holy Spirit.” Through a misunderstanding the Holy Spirit has been construed to be a personality, a third mighty being, equal in power and glory to the Father and Son, yet in some mysterious way, one in substance with them. But this view is not scriptural, as we shall see. Rather, the Holy Spirit mentioned so prominently in the Scriptures is the holy power or influence of GOD—a power which operates for the accomplishment of the Divine purposes wherever and whatever they may be. This fact will become readily apparent as we examine the Bible scriptures.
1. JEHOVAH – a GOD of Love
In a more or less widespread misconception of Jehovah, he is thought of as being austere and unsympathetic, demanding cruel punishment for all who deviate from the doing of his will. In this view, Jesus is looked upon as the loving GOD of the Bible, the One who stepped between the stern Creator and man as a Redeemer and Savior of the human race.
In our search of the Scriptures to find what they say about the “GOD of love and mercy,” it is important, first of all, to note that Jehovah himself, as well as Jesus, is clearly shown to possess the quality of love. In Titus 3:4, in fact, He is spoken of as our “Savior,” and is there said to be kind and loving. This, the scriptural view of Jehovah, reveals Him as being the Author of the plan of salvation, and Jesus as heartily co-operating.
The name Jehovah means the Self-existent, or Eternal One. (Dr. James Strong) In the Bible it is applied exclusively to the Creator, the great First Cause of everything.
“From everlasting to everlasting,” is one of the scriptural expressions used by the Holy Spirit to emphasize that Jehovah is not a created being, but the Creator of all things (Psalm 90:2).
The name Jehovah is never applied to Jesus.
The name Jehovah is, of course, an Old Testament word. It is not used by the New Testament writers, evidently for the reason that they considered it too sacred a name to translate into another language, or, perhaps because there was no suitable Greek word to use in translating it. But this does not mean that Jehovah is merely a tribal god of the Jews, as some would try to make us believe. He is the one true GOD, the Creator of the universe, and the one in whom all animate creation lives and moves and has its being (Acts 17:24-28).
Other Gods in the Old Testament
There are other Hebrew words in the Old Testament translated Lord and God. These, while sometimes applied to Jehovah, are also sometimes prophetically applied to Jesus; sometimes to one or more of the angels; and sometimes even to heathen rulers, and heathen gods. There are three of these Hebrew words—adon, Adonai, and elohim.
The most frequent application of adonis to great and mighty ones of the earth.
Adonai is always applied to deity, but not always to Jehovah. E.g. Psalm 110:5, “the Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.” Here the name Lord is a translation of the Hebrew word Adonai, and refers to Christ, while the pronoun “thy” refers to Jehovah.
The Hebrew word elohim in the Old Testament is a plural form most frequently translated “God” and “Gods,” and is sometimes used with reference to Jehovah, sometimes prophetically of Christ, occasionally, by way of deference, to magistrates, sometimes to angels, and sometimes to false gods. We mention the use of these various Hebrew words translated Lord and God in order to emphasize the fact that Jehovah is the one and only Almighty GOD, who is “from everlasting to everlasting.” There are other lords and other gods referred to in the Scriptures, but Jehovah, even when mentioned as Adonai, or Elohim, is TheAdonai, and TheElohim.
Attributes of Jehovah’s Character
Jehovah has been belittled in the minds of many by a traditional misconception of his personality that has been handed down to us from the Dark Ages, in which he was depicted as an old man with a beard. The Bible does not attempt to give us a description of the bodily appearance of the great Eternal One, because our finite minds could not conceive of his glory even though it were described to us.
The Bible does, however, reveal a great deal concerning the outstanding attributes of the Divine character. It tells us of his infinite wisdom, justice, love, and power. These attributes of Jehovah’s character are in perfect balance; and by their manifestation through his dealings with the human race, his glory is revealed. However, it is largely to the degree that we understand the Divine plan for the human race, that we can appreciate the beauty of the Divine character.
While the Bible, of course, does say that GOD is love, that he is just, and wise and powerful, yet it is only as we see the outworking of these glorious attributes in the Creator’s designs toward the children of men that they become truly meaningful to us. While we can, it is true, behold the power of Jehovah in the works of creation with which we are surrounded, yet God’s plan for a resurrection of the dead; and especially his resurrection of Jesus, is a display of his power surpassing even that of his creative work (Ephesians 1:19,20).
Without a knowledge of God’s plan as a whole, one might wonder why he does not use his power to put an immediate stop to human suffering, especially in view of the fact that he is reputed to be loving as well as powerful. But we must remember that GOD is just and wise, as well as powerful and loving. Everything he does must be fully in harmony with all these attributes of his character (Psalm 89:14).
If GOD was only loving and merciful he would not have condemned our first parents to death, although he had told them if they sinned they would die. One of the fundamentals of GOD’s law is that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). His justice, therefore, demanded that our first parents pay the penalty of their sin.
Some may argue that GOD’s plan to raise the dead is, in effect, a setting aside of GOD’s justice in demanding the death sentence for the violation of his law. But that is where GOD’s wisdom and love can be seen. If only justice alone had been considered, no provision would have been made to set aside that original sentence of death; but divine wisdom and love found a way whereby God could be just, yet use his power to restore the dead to life. This way is through Christ, the Redeemer. Jesus was the world’s “ransom,” which means a corresponding price. It was Divine love that allowed for this, for the Scriptures say that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, Hebrews 2:9).
Jehovah has changed his mind concerning the “wages of sin.” GOD’s Divine wisdom saw that it would be highly desirable that man obtain a thorough knowledge of sin and its disasterous consequences so that all men can learn obedience to GOD’s standard principle = RIGHTEOUSNESS,which shall be the ultimate result in due time.
GOD could have created enough human beings to fill the whole earth, and thus have the planet populated without the process of procreation. This would have meant that each one would have been individually on trial for life. In this case, if those who transgressed were to be redeemed from death, it would have required a separate Redeemer for each one of them. Hence, we can see the wisdom in the divine arrangement whereby Adam was held the responsible head of the entire human race. Thus his sin not only brought condemnation upon all, in that from the very start they were born imperfect, but it also made possible the redemption of all through the death of but one Redeemer (Romans 5:12).
SO all the human race has been receiving an experimental knowledge of sin and its results, and then they have been passes away temporarily in the sleep of death, to be restored during the coming kingdom period when their present experience will be a most valuable asset to them in weighing the advantages of obedience to the divine law then in force.
By this infinitely wise arrangement every child of Adam will be given an experimental knowledge of both good and evil, and thus will be equipped to choose intelligently between the two. Those who choose the good, and accept of GOD’s grace through Christ, the Redeemer, will then live forever.
GOD’s Diversified Wisdom
In Ephesians 3:10, Paul speaks of the “manifold” wisdom of GOD. The Emphatic Diaglott translation of this text uses the word “diversified.” The apostle also shows that this “diversified” wisdom of GOD is being manifested even to the angelic beings in the universe, being revealed to them specially through GOD’s dealings with the church (the 144,000 Elect and the Great Company – as explained in the Book of Revelation) of this age.
In the selection and preparation of the Church to co-operate with Jesus in the future kingdom work of rehabilitating the lost race, there is a still further manifestation of Divine wisdom. How wise that representatives of the fallen race should be chosen, tested, and then equipped to deal with and bless their fellows in the mediatorial arrangements of the new age soon to begin.
And the qualification test placed upon these is that they love GOD’s will supremely and their fellow men so unselfishly that they gladly lay down their lives in service now—imperfect though that service may be—in order that they may be exalted to a glorious future service which will actually give life to all mankind. It is this that Apostle Paul refers to as a baptism for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29).
Yes, those who will follow in Jesus’ footsteps now, will reign with him in his thousand-year kingdom.
The purpose of that kingdom is the restoration of the entire human race to the lost earthly paradise. During those thousand years Christ and the church will serve as a mediatorial board to instruct and bless the world; and finally, to restore the people to atonement with the Creator (Revelation 20:4, Acts 3:20,21, Acts 15:16,17).
Jehovah of the Old Testament Scriptures is the Heavenly Father of the New Testament.
Thus, Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven.”
Jesus is the Son of GOD, this being the relationship he has always enjoyed with Jehovah, the Creator. The Scriptures make it plain that Jesus had been actively associated with his Father since the earliest dawn of creation. They tell us, in fact, that he was the “beginning of the creation of GOD” (Revelation 3:14), and also, “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15).
These passages indicate that Jesus was the direct creation of the Father, and therefore properly spoken of as his “only begotten Son.” The apostle also tells us that Jesus was the active agent of Jehovah in all the creative work. He says: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible, and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him” (Colossians 1:16, Hebrew 1:2,John 1:3,Ephesians 3:9).
In John 1:14,Jesus in his prehuman existence is referred to as the “Word” of GOD. Verse 14 says that the “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The term “Word” here used is a translation of the Greek word Logos. Ancient kings when addressing their people, customarily sat behind a lattice in front of which stood a representative who proclaimed the king’s message to the people. The representative was styled the logos—the king’s word, or mouthpiece.
God’s Son, as the Logos, has always been the active agent of Jehovah, and the Bible assures us that he always will be. Not only in the work of creation, but in the call and preparation of the church in this age, and also in the gigantic task of restitution scheduled for the approaching 1000 years of Mediatorial Reign, this beloved Son of GOD acts for the Father, expressing his will, and doing his work. In the millennial age Christ with his church, will speak peace to all the nations, and they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks (Micah 4:3, Psalm 46:9).
The Apostle Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 15:25-28, “He must REIGN, till he hath put ALL enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He [Jehovah] hath put all things under his [Jesus’] feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him [Jesus], it is manifest that he [Jehovah] is excepted, which did put all things under him [Jesus]. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [Jehovah] that put all things under him, that God [Jehovah] may be all in all.
Considerable confusion has resulted from an inaccurate translation of John 1:1,2, where the King James Version makes it appear that the “Word,” or Logos, is the same personality as GOD. The “Word was God,” is the way this faulty translation puts it. But in the original Greek text the matter is made clear. There a distinction is made between the Logos, who was “a” God, and the Father, who is referred to as “The” GOD. The translation should read, “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was a God. The same was in the beginning with The God.”
The Greek wordTheos is the one in this text that is translated God. Theos simply means a mighty one, and it must be determined from the text in which it is used, whether the reference is to Jehovah, the Great and Almighty One, or to His Son, Christ Jesus, formerly the Logos, who is “a” mighty One. As a matter of fact, this same word Theos is used in 2 Corinthians 4:4, where the reference is to Satan, the “god [theos] of this world.” However, in the Greek text, the definite article “The,” makes it clear who is meant.
Thus we see that it was the Logos, as “a” God, the one who was the active agent of Jehovah in the creative work, who was “made flesh.” It is interesting to note, in this connection, the form of expression used in the Genesis account of creation, where we read, “Let US make man in OUR image,”etc. Here Jehovah is speaking to the Logos, outlining and directing the work in hand (Genesis 1:26).
And, in keeping with this spirit of oneness and co-operation, when the time came for fallen man to be redeemed, the Logos “humbled himself,” becoming a servant in lowly form, for the suffering of death upon the cross. (Philippians 2:7,8) During the whole period of his earthly ministry Jesus remained humble, always reminding those to whom he ministered that the words which he spoke, and the works which he did, were not his own, but those of the Heavenly Father. This was in full keeping with his plain assertion, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
Jesus’ Oneness with the Father
Jesus declared to his disciples, “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) This statement has been misused in an effort to prove that Jesus and his Father were one and the same Person. But all will concede, we believe, that there are forms of oneness other than that of a similarity of being. In John chapter 17, Jesus is quoted as praying for the oneness of his church. In this prayer he asks his Father to bring about the same kind of oneness between his church and himself as existed between himself and his Father. This, obviously, is aoneness of will and purpose.
During Jesus’s ministry, he emphasized over and over that he came not to do his own will, but the will of the Heavenly Father who sent him. When Jesus was facing mockery, ignominy, and death, he asked the Father to let this cup pass from him if it were possible. “Nevertheless,” he said, “not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42; Matt. 26:39; John 5:30; 6:38) The Heavenly Father’s will was ever paramount in the Master’s life, hence he could truly say, “I and my Father are one.”
This is also the reason Jesus could truthfully say, “He who hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9) This statement of Jesus does not mean that in seeing him one actually saw Jehovah, as throughout the Bible we have statements to the effect that no one can look upon GOD and live. (Exod. 33:20; I Tim. 6:16; 1:17; John 1:18) If those who looked upon Jesus in the flesh thereby actually saw GOD, it would mean that GOD, the creator of the universe, is a human being. What Jesus meant was that his life and ministry served to reveal the Father to those who had “eyes to see.”
And besides, it should be remembered that Jesus in the flesh was an exact counterpart of father Adam, of whom it is said, that he was created in the “image of God.” This, of course, refers to a moral image, not a physical likeness. It means that Adam was capable of discerning between right and wrong, as those principles were enunciated in the law of his Creator. This is the reason he was held responsible for his sin.
Jesus, like Adam before the fall, was also in the image of God—a perfect, sinless human being. It was necessary that Jesus be thus, else he could not have redeemed Adam and his race from death. He came to earth as a representative of the Heavenly Father, and everything he did and said was just what the Father would have done and said had he personally visited the earth. Thus it was true that, in a very wonderful way, those who saw him saw the Father. It was the only way that a fallen human being could I see GOD and live.
We should honor the Son even as we honor the Father. (John 5:23) God so highly regarded and honored the Son that he even commanded the angels to worship him, (Heb. 1:6,7) If we take the view that Jesus was GOD himself, then we have the inconsistency of the Master praying to himself, as well as other incongruities in connection with his earthly life and ministry.
Jesus Now Highly Exalted
The Bible shows that in carrying out the Divine plan of redemption for the human race, the only begotten Son of GOD has experienced two changes of nature. Before his human existence, he was a glorious spirit being, next in honor and authority to the Heavenly Father himself. Jesus referred to his prehuman glory, when he prayed, “O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5) That glory was laid aside when the Logos was “made flesh.” Jesus was made flesh, the apostle explains, “for the suffering of death.” (Heb. 2:9,14) As a spirit being he could not give himself as a corresponding price for father Adam and his race, so he humbled himself that he might die as a ransom to save the human race from eternal destruction.—Phil. 2:7, 8; I Tim. 2:5,6
In raising the Master from the dead the Father did more than restore his Son to his former position of glory in the heavenly realm. He highly exalted him to a place next to himself on the throne of the universe. GOD exalted him to the Divine nature, also, so that now he is truly the Divine Christ—the “express image of the Father’s person.” (Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:34,36; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:3,13) Hallelujah, what a Savior!
3. THE HOLY SPIRIT
Through mistranslation and otherwise, many have been led erroneously to believe that the Holy spirit is a person, the third person of a trinity God; but the Scriptures, when properly understood, do not warrant this thought. One of the mistranslations contributing to this misunderstanding is where the Greek word pneumais rendered by the English word “ghost.” This makes the holy Spirit to be a holy “Ghost.”
But this is a gross mistranslation, and so recognized by the American Revision Committee who translated the Revised Version. In a number of instances, both the British and American Revisers corrected “Ghost” to “Spirit.” The American Revisers use the word “Spirit” where the King James Version reads “Ghost.”
The King James Version was translated at a time when superstition was rife, hence the word “Ghost” would command a great deal more respect and reverence than it does today. Back in the days when the KJV Bible was written, ghosts were very real in the minds of most people, yet very mysterious. They were always associated with the thought of personality, and the translators, believing in a personal holy Spirit, conceived the idea of calling it a holy “Ghost.”
In the Old Testament the word “spirit” is a translation of the Hebrew wordruach. The primary significance of this word is wind. We do not mean to imply by this, however, that the holy Spirit is a holy wind. This is merely the root meaning of the word. Wind is both invisible and powerful, hence the ancients applied this word to various invisible and powerful influences. Since Divine power is exercised through channels and by agencies beyond human sight and understanding, this word ruach came to be applied more and more to all of GOD’s dealings.
The wordruach,in addition to being translated “Spirit,” is also translated in the Old Testament by the English words “blast,” “breath,” “tempest,” “mind,” “smell,” “wind,” and “windy.” It will be seen that in each of these translations the thought behind the word is that of invisible power, or influence. There is power in the mind, for example, but it is a power that is invisible, and its operation but little understood.
As already noted, in the New Testament the Greek word translated “Spirit,” or “Ghost,” in the expressions holy Spirit or holy “Ghost,” is pneuma.The primary meaning of this word is also wind, or air. It is the word from which our English word pneumatic is derived. In addition to being translated Spirit and Ghost, it is also translated in the New ‘testament by the words “life,” “spiritual,” and sometimes “wind.” In Revelation 13:15 it is translated life, and here the reference is to life that is given to the image of the beast.”
The holy Spirit then is the invisible power of GOD, a power that is manifested in a great variety of ways. Speaking of GOD’s creative power we read that his “Spirit moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) That was a life-giving Power.
The influence of the holy Spirit in our lives as Christians is primarily that of GOD’s mind—the power of his expressed will for us.
Various manifestations of the holy Spirit are referred to as “The Spirit of Christ,” the “Spirit of holiness,” the “Spirit of truth,” the “Holy Spirit of promise,” the “Spirit of meekness,” the “Spirit of grace,” the “Spirit of prophecy.”
The various manifestations of the spirit of Satan are described as the “spirit of fear,” the “spirit of bondage,” the “spirit of the world,” the “spirit of error,” the “spirit of divination,” the “spirit of antichrist,” and the “spirit of slumber.” No one would conclude that because the word spirit is thus used to describe the various manifestations of Satan’s influence in the world, that there is a personal unholy spirit, that is one in substance with the Devil.
Born of the Spirit
There are a number of expressions used in the Scriptures to describe the work of the holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of Christians. One of these is “born.” This is a word which suggests the coming into existence of a new life, and this is one of the things accomplished by the Power of the holy Spirit. This new life, when it conics fully to birth, will be so different from the human life that concerning it Jesus said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canal not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
The Greek word in the Bible translated “born” is also correctly translated “begotten”. When one comes to GOD in repentance and, through faith in Christ as his Redeemer, surrenders himself in full consecration to do GOD’s will, what occurs is properly described as a “begetting” of the Spirit of GOD. In other words, a new life is then begun.
But this new life, to continue the symbolism, is merely an embryo. It needs to be nourished by the Word of GOD, and thus to develop, growing strong in the Lord and in the power of his night. It is not until the resurrection that this new life comes to the birth. Not until then is one truly born of the Spirit. Not until then are the words of Jesus true that one thus born is able to go and come invisibly as the wind.
Baptism of the Spirit
The Scriptures also speak of the “baptism” of the Spirit. The word baptize means to bury, and to be baptized by the Spirit of GOD simply means to be so fully surrendered to the doing of GOD’s will that one comes fully under its control, having no will of one’s own.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized,” and he explains that for the individual this baptism occurs when one comes into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). It is a burial of our wills into the will of God as expressed through Christ, the Head of the “body.”
When we understand what to expect as a result of placing ourselves under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we will not be wondering why we cannot speak with tongues as did the disciples at Pentecost and for a short time thereafter. Speaking with tongues as practiced by the early Church was a necessity at that time. At Pentecost, for example, Jews were gathered at Jerusalem from all parts of the known world. They spoke various languages, yet it was the Lord’s will that they should receive a witness of the truth as proclaimed by the apostles. In order for this to be accomplished, the disciples were miraculously empowered to speak in these various languages. As the church grew, and conversions were made among these various language groups, the need for speaking with tongues no longer existed, for there were disciples among all the various groups capable of witnessing to the Gospel in their native tongues.
Filled with the Spirit
The Scriptures declare, “Be ye filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) How void of meaning would this expression be if the Holy Spirit were a person! But when we recognize that it is simply the power, or influence, of GOD, exercised in the Christian life largely through his written Word, then we can understand how it is possible to have either more or less of the Spirit influencing our lives.
To be filled with the Spirit calls for an emptying of self and self-will, and a diligent application of ourselves to the study of GOD’s Word and to putting into practice all of its righteous precepts.
In the Scriptures, Christians are also said to be “sealed” by the “holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13) GOD’s Spirit directed the minds of the prophets in writing the Old Testament in which are recorded many promises vouchsafing GOD’s blessing upon His faithful people. The New Testament was also written under the direct inspiration of the Spirit, or power of GOD, and it contains additional promises by which GOD guarantees victory through Christ for every faithful follower of the Master. Thus He “seals” us by His promises; that is, He assures us that if we are faithful to Him He will give us Grace to help in every time of need, and in the resurrection will give us a crown of life.
All Flesh to be Blessed
GOD’s Spirit will be poured out in various ways for the blessing of mankind during the 1000 Year Messianic Reign of CHRIST and His Bride, the 144,000 Elect.. He will cause the knowledge of his glory to fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. (Isa. 11:9) His power will also operate to restore the dead to life, for the promise is that there “shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15).
In a promise of a New Covenant which the Lord will make, first with the house of Israel, and then with the whole world, the statement is made that the Lord will write His law in the hearts of the people. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) This, too, will result from the operation of His Holy Spirit in the lives of those who obey the laws of Christ’s kingdom.
During this 1000 year Mediatorial Reign, Satan and all his army of evil angels will be bound, thus his spirit will not be influencing people to do wrong. Instead, every condition of the new social order will be favorable to the doing of GOD’s righteous will. Love will take the place of selfishness as a motivating power in all human activity. The people will learn that the greatest and only enduring joy comes from DOING RIGHTEOUSLY to others rather than from selfishly seeking always to take care of one’s own interests first.
Thus the whole outlook of the human race gradually will be changed as a result of the outpouring of GOD’s Spirit upon all flesh.
How glad we should be that the power of GOD is thus to be manifested for solving the problems of a distressed and dying race! When the blessings accruing from this outpouring of the holy Spirit will be recognized as coming from the great and true GOD of the universe, the Creator of heaven an d earth, the people will be glad to give glory to him, for they will then know that he is truly a GOD of PERFECT AGAPE LOVE -what more could one ask for then this level of PURE LOVE?